Review: Jana Winderen – Pasvikdalen (Touch, Oct 10)

The picture used as the cover of the digital release of Pasvikdalen (taken by the artist herself) almost looks like part painting, part photograph; the sky and distant hills in the upper half are recognizably “real,” but to me at least the colorful tenements below are like the work of a skilled oil painter in comparison, all rich tans and burgundies and soft mountain grey-blues. I begin with these observations because like the photograph, Jana Winderen’s phonography compositions portray some aspects of reality in unique ways such that they often sound like something more synthetic—take for example the granular textures of the recordings of shrimp in The Noisiest Guys on the Planetbut there are also always swathes of unconcealed reality woven in, and it’s a testament to Winderen’s skill as an artist that she’s able to convey such powerful atmosphere and emotion via both elements. Spectral and somber, Pasvikdalen is at times as austere as the mysterious, misty landscapes of Nikel, Russia, where the source recordings were gathered, but throughout its nearly 40 minute run time there are also moments of the therapeutic calmness that only such environments can provide. Also of note are the animal sounds of which Winderen makes use; the wails of dogs and sea creatures evoke almost human-like feelings of grief and lament, making this sonic portrait all the more poignant.